Zing-Things and Big Fun


Last night, my son was busy playing a game on the iPad. After the game, he came up to me and said, “I need to earn 400 points to buy a few things for my pet.  I wish I could get it right now, but (sighing loudly) I have to wait another 24 hours at least.”

I chuckled, and that irritated him.

“Why are you smiling, mom? Do you know how difficult it is to wait 24 hours for something?” he asked.

I then recounted to him, a memory from my childhood.

It was in the eighties that television came to many households in India. Most of our homes had black and white TVs back then.  With increasing viewership, advertisers came up with wonderful commercials to push their brands to a new audience, that was just waiting to lap it all up.

Two very popular brands from that time,  advertised on TV and then followed it up with contests for children on the ground.

The first was a tie-up between Disney’s Jungle Book and a fizzy drink called Gold Spot (the commercial went something like this…’Gold Spot The Zing Thing’).  Gold Spot was sold in glass bottles with metal crown caps. When the Jungle Book promotion was on, inside each crown cap was a small, round card with any one of the Jungle Book Characters. We could collect the contest card from prescribed shops, and then collect the character cards, and paste them on the main card.

We were on a mission. Each time we went out, the whole family had to drink only Gold Spot. Immediately afterwards, the crown caps were opened up and the characters taken out.

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            Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

This exercise taught us ‘patience’, and how! We usually got the same characters multiple times. So we had to trade with our friends. Many fun hours were spent, as each of us took our character cards to exchange or discuss with our friends. We had a deal with a small store in town, where we usually bought provisions, to put away the crown caps for us.

It took us more than 2 months to fill up the competition card, but the joy that came with it was priceless.

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           Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

The second big excitement was when one of the most popular bubble gum brands was launched. It was called Big Fun and was very tasty. We spent hours chewing and blowing bubbles with the gum.

As part of the Cricket World Cup, the brand announced a contest for children, where each child had to collect information sheets about famous cricketers. These sheets were inside the bubble gum wrapper. We had to collect around 40 such sheets, and then send it to the Big Fun Company. The first 500 entries would receive gift hampers.

My sisters and I were on a mission. We managed to collect all of them, and sent it by post.

The wait was agonizing. One fine day, we received a letter that said that we had won a gift hamper. We went mad with excitement. And then the long wait began.

After about a month, we got a big cover on which was a Big Fun logo. We cut it open. By then, our entire group of friends knew and all of them joined us in opening the hamper.

It had a huge sheet filled with board games, one whole packet of Big Fun, some labels, timetables and some stationery.

Our eyes shone with so much joy. We could not stop talking about it for ages. The long wait paid off.

My son heard me out and said, “That’s an awfully long wait, mom. I am glad mine will be over tomorrow.”

I smile. There was so much joy in the collecting and waiting. Not sure if this generation of kids has that kind of patience.

My favourite uncle


Growing up, we’ve all had our favourite uncles, aunts and cousins. There were some ‘go to’ aunts and uncles, who indulged us, some whom we went to for advice and then again, others whom we didn’t bother with.

My all-time favourite uncle was my Dad’s younger brother. When he was with us, fun times were not far away.

From birthday cakes to surprise treats, he made our childhood days so special.

One absolutely special memory with him was  ‘Kids’ Movie Night’.  Whenever a new children’s film played in one of the oldest cinema houses in town, our uncle took us to watch them – ‘Annie’, ‘Lassie come home’, ‘Herbie goes Bananas’, ‘Jungle Book’ and countless other wonderful films.  We usually went to the 6 pm show on Saturdays.

When we stepped out of the theatre after the movie, the roads were usually deserted. Due to the biting cold, we wore our sweaters and caps, and walked back with our uncle.

On the way back, we usually made two stops. The first stop was just outside the theatre at a peanut seller’s stall. He was an integral part of the movie-going experience. He stood behind his stall, roasting peanuts in a huge wok, which had sand at the bottom. The spatula with which he roasted made a metallic grating sound, the only sound that could be heard on that road.  The warm fire of his stove set his face aglow, as he smiled at my uncle in recognition.

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Picture courtesy – http://www.wikihow.com

He deftly rolled paper into cones and filled them to the brim with warm peanuts. We slowly munched our way through those yummy peanuts, as we headed towards our second stop.

This was a small, quaint tea shop, which served great coffee and tea (as I discovered when I grew up). But, when we were with our uncle, we got to have warm, creamy glasses of fresh milk and cookies to go with them.

My uncle chatted with the owner, as my sister and I drank our milk and compared our white ‘milk mustaches’, giggling at each other.

We discussed our favourite parts in the movie, as we held our uncle’s hands and walked back to our cozy home.